For the second time in a row, Icelanders are the third happiest nation on earth, according to the UN’s 2017 World Happiness Report, published today for the fifth time, on the International Day of Happiness.
Norwegians are the world’s happiest, up three places from last year, followed by Danes, who topped the list last year. Switzerland follows Iceland in fourth place. According to the report, the differences between these four countries are small enough to be statistically insignificant.
The six key variables used to measure happiness are GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support (as measured by having someone to count on in times of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent donations).
The top ten nations on the list rank highly on all six of these factors. Switzerland is followed by Finland on the list, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. The US ranks 14th, Germany 16th, and the UK 19th.
The percentage of the population who report having someone to count on in times of trouble is the highest in Iceland, or 99 percent. With respect to the post 2007 economic crisis, the best examples of happiness being maintained in the face of large external shocks were Ireland and especially Iceland. Despite the banking collapse in the two countries, the happiness of these nations was affected much less than expected.